Tim's death was so sudden, I found it hard to accept. It didn't feel real. Every time I heard the door from his shop to our flat click, it was him coming upstairs to show me something, rant about a customer, or pass on a bit of news. When I saw his car outside, for just a split second I'd think he was home. Gradually, it became real as the rawness of the shock wore off, and I became very low. I was accepting it.
I didn't want to adjust. I didn't want to change anything or move anything. I lived within a very small space, moving between my office and my chair. My chair became a nest, with books and crafts around it all within arm's length. Friends helped, but I just needed to be inside my grief. Slowly, I started to sort things out. I started to get rid of things – some of his things, some of my things – and to tidy, clean and decorate the house. Creating a home for me. I started to adjust.
In the early days of grief, achieving just meant getting out of bed. Cleaning my teeth. Showering. Eating a piece of fruit. Grief is a rollercoaster, and sometimes in the later days of grief, these were achievements too. When things got very dark, simply being alive was an achievement. As I moved forward through grief, I was able to work, go out, go to the theatre alone, eat better. Write. Go back to university and study. I was achieving.
This is my story. It's important to remember that everyone's grief journey is different. Accepting, adjusting and achieving will have unique meanings for each and every widow.
I was widowed at 50 when Tim, who I expected would be my happy-ever-after following a marriage break-up, died suddenly from heart failure linked to his type 2 diabetes. Though we'd known each other since our early 20s, we'd been married less than ten years.